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What’s the Best Way to Remove Old Wax / Sealant So That I Can Apply a New / Different One?


So you just purchased a new wax or sealant and you want to know the best way to remove your previously applied product. This is a great question, as a lot of today’s sealants require a clean surface in order for them to bond properly and offer the most durability from the product. As with most things in detailing, there is more than one way to achieve this result. Sealants do tend to be harder to remove than most natural waxes and I suggest using the least aggressive steps needed to get the job done.

First, start with a good wash that follows Todd Cooperider’s tips on proper washing technique.  The only thing we will want to vary is to increase our soap mixture to a paint-prep-ratio of 2oz per gallon of water. One of the great things about CG Citrus Wash N Clear is that it’s gentle enough for day-to-day washing when mixed at the normal ratio, but it can also remove most waxes at the paint prep ratio. Once you’ve thoroughly washed the car pay attention to whether or not the water is beading on the paint. When it no longer beads, you are done. Simply dry the car down and apply your new wax or sealant.

The method that I personally use to remove a wax or sealant is slightly different. I like to use a pre-wax cleaner such as P21S Paintwork Cleanser, Dodo Juice Lime Prime Pre-Wax Cleanser, or Chemical Guys Vertua-Bond 408. In addition to removing the old wax and prepping the surface for a new wax, these products also add depth and gloss.

A third method you can use is a little more aggressive and is something I only recommend with the most durable of sealants. To use this method you simply add an APC like P21S TAW to your washing process. To do this I will spray 2-3 panels at a time with some TAW and then wash each section using the above method of paint-prep-ratio wash followed by a rinse. Continue these steps for the whole car and then observe the water beading after you rinse. At this point there should be no beading.

The last method for removing a wax or sealant would be to do an IPA wipe down (Isopropyl Alcohol).  First you’ll need to properly wash and dry the vehicle.  Next you want to fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of IPA and water. Spray a panel at a time with IPA and gently wipe dry with a clean soft Microfiber towel. The DI Ultra Plush towels work great for this step.

All of the above steps should effectively remove your previous wax or sealant, but I do strongly recommend use of a pre-wax cleaner if you are not going to be doing any polishing on the vehicle.

I hope this helps, and please feel free to reply in the comment box below if you have any additional questions or comments.

Chad Rskovich Rasky's Auto Detailing
Chad Raskovich
Rasky's Auto Detailing
Minneapolis, MN

8 comments on What’s the Best Way to Remove Old Wax / Sealant So That I Can Apply a New / Different One?

  1. Eric H. says:

    Hi Rasky,

    Thanks for the info – I’m already thinking ahead to spring and about the best way to start a fresh coat of sealant/wax, so this is very helpful.

    I’m not sure I understand why your third method involving TAW would be more aggressive than your second method involving paint cleaner, some of which have cutting/polishing agents. Can you clarify a bit for me?

    Thanks again!

    -Eric H.

    • Hey Eric,

      Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

      On the third method listed I guess the use of the word “aggressive” was not the best choice of words on my part. Obviously TAW does not have abrasives in it like a polish, and when I said it was “a little more aggressive” I was not really referring to it like I would a polish or compound. Basically what I was trying to imply was that the use of an APC (All Purpose Cleaner) to help aid in the remove of a wax or sealant is a more harsh method which needs to be used with some caution. TAW is pretty safe when it come to APC’s, but you never want to allow cleaners like these to dry on the paint or dwell for extended periods of time as some of them can stain the paint.

      I hope this clears up any confusion for you. 😉

      If you or anyone else has any additional questions or comments, please feel free to reply in the comment box below.


      • Eric H. says:

        Thanks, Rasky – this helps!

        I do like the idea of using a paint cleaner, like you use, to make sure the winter sludge is scrubbed off completely…

        Thanks again,

        -Eric H.

  2. Arthur Lima Barreirinhas das Neves says:

    I applyed in my paint wolfgang deep gloss, and i dont know how to remove the sealant, i want more shine and i will try meguiars ultimate wax, can you help me remove the sealant?

    • Reece @ DI Reece @ DI says:

      Arthur – Any of the options listed in this article will work great. Using a shampoo like the Chemical Guys Citrus Wash, a degresaser like the P21S Total Auto Wash, or a pre-wax cleanser like the P21S Paintwork Cleanser will work fantastic. Another option is using an IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) wipedown. This product is cheap and you can find it at your local pharmacy! Hopefully this information was helpful and if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us here: https://www.detailedimage.com/Contact/

    • Arthur,

      There has been a lot of debate on this topic since I wrote this article over 6 years ago. While a strong mix of soap, all purpose cleaner, or IPA “may” be able to remove a wax or sealant that has been on the car a while, the best method has always been with the use of a pre-wax cleaner or light finishing polish. A recently applied sealant like the Wolfgang one you used will NOT be easily removed with strong mixes of car soap, Dawn, APC, or IPA. A lot of this confusion stems around the fact that most of these cleaners, especially Dawn, have surfactants in them that cause water to pool on the paint, giving the impression that the wax/sealant has been removed. In the case of Dawn dish soap this is done intentionally to prevent water spotting. The only real way to ensure your previously applied wax has been removed is with a pre-wax cleaner or polish. As my friend Mike Phillips has said many times, “this would be working forward”, where using harsh cleaners to strip wax would be “working backwards”. Hope that makes sense.

      My above article is still valid for prep prior to polishing a car, but for just removing one wax/sealant to apply another, a pre-wax cleaner is the best way to go. 🙂



    How often can I reapply paint sealants.

    • Reece @ DI Reece @ DI says:

      Traditional paint sealants last 3-4 months. You can really reapply as much as you would like, but we would recommend every 3 months or so, unless you want to apply multiple layers, which is certainly okay as well.

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